In preparation for March Madness, basketball fanatics take the time and energy to strategically fill in NCAA basketball brackets and invest a little money for the fun of it. March Madness also involves beating the mad-rush on lawn mower repair shops and investing in your equipment to keep them running strong for years to come. For some, having the most beautiful lawn on the block is similar to being in a competitive tournament with neighbors. March is a good month to start your well thought out lawn maintenance plan to achieve your goals for a beautiful healthy lawn and finish in the winners bracket.
1. TUNE-UP THE LAWN MOWER. Equipment that runs strong will manicure a lawn perfectly with less hassle. Beat the madness and get your mower into a repair shop immediately, before the April rush. If you are mechanically gifted, follow your owner’s manual for the recommended tune-up procedures. If you no longer have a manual, start by sharpening the mower blade. In addition to changing the oil, spark plug and air filter, drain the old gas and fill the mower and gas can with fresh gas. Scrape off the moldy grass from beneath the mower deck and adjust all four tires to the same height. If the wheels have grease zerks, fill them with a few pumps from a grease gun. Hose out the catcher and let it air dry. Gas powered trimmers, edgers, and blowers can be serviced in a similar way. Buy additional supplies such as trimmer line, edger blades, two cycle oil, lawn bags, rake, safety goggles, ear plugs, gloves, and sunscreen.
2. AERATE. Aerating a lawn reduces soil compaction and cuts the grass roots which encourages new grass shoots to emerge for a thicker lawn. Schedule a time for April with a lawn service company so you can flag the sprinklers ahead of time.
3. TOP-DRESS. Top-dressing (filling) the aeration holes with fertile soil rich in composted organic matter, microorganisms and sandy loam is the best way to improve the soil’s condition and food web. Colorado soil is rich in clay and poor in organic matter and microbes. Composted manure and sandy loam naturally breaks up clay, improves soil porosity, and retains more water than aerating alone. Microorganisms are part of a soil food web that converts organic matter into plant useable food. Empty aeration holes will fill in with time if not top-dressed but the same poor soil conditions will exist. Top-dressing in the spring jump starts your lawn to becoming thicker and greener since the cut grass roots will immediately grow into the soil filled holes.
Let’s be honest. Some neighbors ARE in competition with each other to have the lushest lawn on the street. Then there are those neighbors who are content having a lawn in the loser brackets. These three steps will quickly move you into the Final Four. Next month I’ll compare two fertilizing programs that will help you win the Championship. Be a winner!